Hoeven Holds Online Roundtable with USDA, North Dakota Producers & Commodity Groups to Review Agriculture Assistance in CARES Act

Senator Secured Nearly $25 Billion to Address COVID-19 Impacts on Agriculture, Outlines Additional Benefits Available to Producers

BISMARCK, N.D. - Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, today led a discussion between U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials, North Dakota producers and commodity groups to review the nearly $25 billion in agriculture assistance that the senator secured under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Hoeven hosted the online meeting to ensure local farmers and ranchers are best able to access the assistance and to provide producers’ feedback to the administration. 

Officials participating in the meeting include USDA Chief Economist Dr. Robert Johansson, USDA Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations Ken Barbic, Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Brad Thykeson and North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.

“All together, we secured nearly $25 billion in resources to help our farmers and ranchers, and we’re working closely with USDA to get this assistance out quickly and in a way that’s fair,” said Hoeven. “The CARES Act also provided additional support that producers are eligible to access, like the Paycheck Protection Program. Today’s meeting is all about providing this information to our agriculture groups so they can assist their members while also ensuring the administration has this firsthand knowledge of our local needs. We appreciate USDA’s participation and their commitment to gathering input from those directly impacted by the challenges in farm country.”

Hoeven worked continuously to ensure support for farm country in the CARES Act, including leading a Senate colloquy to outline the importance of the provisions after the original legislation was blocked from advancing. Hoeven also worked with the American Farm Bureau to organize a letter of support from agriculture groups across rural America. 

During today’s meeting, Hoeven outlined the following measures included in the final Phase III response bill:

Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) – $14 billion to replenish the USDA’s borrowing authority under the CCC, the primary funding source for most farm programs, including Agriculture Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage, the Livestock Forage Program and the Market Facilitation Program. The extra authority will support USDA’s efforts to mitigate the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on agriculture producers.

Emergency Appropriations for USDA  $9.5 billion in separate funding for USDA to help producers impacted by COVID-19. This includes livestock and specialty crop producers. Hoeven is working with USDA to provide immediate assistance in a way that fairly benefits different types of producers.

  • The senator has spoken with Agriculture Secretary Perdue multiple times in recent weeks on the importance of providing assistance to producers impacted by low commodity prices, like cattle producers. Hoeven has also recently spoken with Stephen Censky, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, and Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, to stress this issue and receive an update on the administration’s progress.

Paycheck Protection Program  This forgivable loan program, administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), will help enable small businesses and self-employed individuals, including farmers and ranchers, to cover expenses. Costs eligible for forgiveness include payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – Expands unemployment benefits to those who would otherwise be ineligible, including self-employed individuals, covering those who are unemployed, face reduced hours or are unable to work due to COVID-19.

  • The Phase II legislation also provided self-employed individuals with refundable tax credits for family and sick leave, covering those who are required to quarantine or are caring for a child who is sick or whose school or child care facility has closed. 

Support for Rural Communities – This includes:

  • $1 billion in lending authority for the Business and Industry loan guarantee program.
  • $100 million for the Reconnect broadband loan and grant program.
  • $25 million for Distance Learning, Telemedicine and Broadband Program.